Are You Living Your Calling?


I am honored God has chosen me to be an artist, life coach, and writer. I knew I wanted to be an artist in grade school when a boy flirtingly complimented me on a cat picture I'd drawn in class. 

I knew I wanted to be a writer since high school when I heard other students laugh at a comical piece I'd written and when a teacher gave me an A+ on a story. 

I knew I wanted to be a life coach in 2005 after watching the TV show Starting Over and when Katie Brazelton, founder of a coaching program, called me personally to extend an invitation to her course. 

It's funny, how all through life we look for other ways to spend our time and earn our income. Most of my interests took a back seat as I raised my family. But once out from under the child-rearing calling, I looked here, there, and everywhere for what I might do next for real pay. You see, I found earning a personal income from life coaching, my artwork, or my writing was hit and miss. 


Life Calling 

Recently, I had an epiphany (aha moment) as I was working on my next book to be published. I'd just read Will Mancini's book Clarity Spiral (click the link to get your free copy).  In it, Mancini describes his personal life journey of holding multiple careers before settling in on his one thing. 

At first, I was gripped while reading, but when the book took a turn to focus on careers and leveraging your skills to prove to your boss your value. I felt left out (as usual). You see, after leaving my career as an administrative assistant to top executives years ago, other than a few work-from-home gigs (including life coaching and writing), I have been out of the workforce for 26 years. Much I was reading in Clarity Spiral didn't apply to me. 

This isn't new, I've discovered most life purpose books (including Blueprint for Life) assume the reader has paid work--a career. I have not had much of that over the last 26 years. 

The Epiphany 

So, what was the epiphany I had?  While working on a new book I will self-publish, I described a bit of my life path. And then I wrote "I always knew I wanted to be a writer."  

Quickly, the words echoed, They took me back to what I'd read in Mancini's book about finding our one thing. I decided perhaps I should take my writing even more seriously than I have been. Perhaps writing is my one thing and I need to quit looking elsewhere.

Common Threads 

What Mancini doesn't talk about (which I was picturing while trying to fall asleep last night) is how a spiral is like a thread. My gifts have been common threads throughout my life. They are clues to calling.

Do you know what your common threads are? 

Common threads will become apparent in all the roles we carry out. 

So while Clarity Spiral  didn't necessarily fit me, reading it has pushed me to keep writing for women like myself--at-home moms, homemakers, displaced women, work-from-home women, and retirees--women for whom books like that fall short.

Working in Kingdom Commodity

There is recognizing our calling, and then there is accepting it. There is embracing the meagerness of it, or fighting it. 

It's easy to fall prey to gurus who tell us we can earn six-figures by living our calling. (Even Mancini has made over a million.) But if we aren't making three, four, or five digits from living our calling does that mean we quit? Does that mean it isn't vital or viable?

There are times God gives us callings that we don't receive direct pay from. I believe in kingdom commodity in that God provides for us and blesses us in other ways. One way he has done that for me is through my husband's pay. My husband always assures me it isn't his money, it is our money. Just when I'm whining about not making as much money as I could out at a real job, a pay raise or bonus seems to come through, or I get more article and book sales. 

Now let me make it clear, I don't want to discount my or your abilities. One day I do hope to be better paid for my efforts. I want success for my readers too.  

My comments are about what I've experienced to date. I have written and sold over 400 web content articles for pay, I have sold over $1,000 in Kindle books. My time to shine brighter may be in the days ahead. (I've asked God to sell some of my artwork in mass. I've prayed for a six-figure sale of artwork to somewhere like Disney for their hotels :) - why not?)   

The question becomes: Will you live your life calling even if significant earnings aren't attached?


God's Calling 

While we live in the world, the world's commodity is how we live. It cannot be ignored. It takes a strong-in-faith woman to put the desire for riches aside so she can focus on what God is calling her to do. 

The Clarity Spiral suggests it's okay to have a number of careers along our life journey. Eventually we will get to where we are called to go. I like that idea especially as we see our own children changing jobs. Much can be learned at every stop.

Small Blessings

I thrive on small affirmations. This week, I learned one of my books was given 5 stars by a stranger. Her review blessed me. Apparently, my book gave her hope for getting through the empty nest. Affirmations like this help me see the potential in what I do. 

The book is called Help Me Lord, I'm Wilting...Rx for the Midlife Nest-Emptying Christian Woman (available on Amazon - all digital books can be read on any device including your laptop or computer. You may need to download an app, but it is easy to do). Here's the cover. 



Help Me, Lord, I'm Wilting: Rx For the Midlife Nest-Emptying Christian Woman by [Garde, Rose]


This post isn't meant to be all about me. It is meant to encourage you to believe that even if you don't have an official job title, earnings flowing in, acclamation, it doens't mean you are outside your calling. 

Consult God to direct you to how you should be focusing your time and energy. Then do what he lays on your heart. Resist doubt. Embrace your calling.  

Moving Forward as YOU


To be honest, I'm now officially beyond "midlife." But I find all through life we have a common need to re-invent ourselves no matter our age. God is Creator and Master Gardener. As such, he would have us grow, create and thrive--replanting seeds and transplanting as needed. 


As long as we have breath, we have purposes to fulfill. We can remain mindful of where he wants to use us daily that fits with the type of plant we are. 

I use the term plant loosely to describe personality, mission and calling. At every age and stage it is important to be yourself. Sounds simple enough, but do you know yourself well enough to stand against the crowd?

There are many people around you in person or online that will challenge you to be something other than yourself.  

FOR EXAMPLE: 

As an example of identifying who you are, here are a few points about myself:  I am an ambivert. I can be loud and obnoxious and enjoy being with people, but I then need a lot of downtime for recovery. I am sarcastic and love making people laugh. I get that honestly from my mother. But some people take me wrong. I have to be careful.  

I am not action oriented. I am a deep thinker who takes time to consider my choices. I am easily amused with doing artwork at home, working in my garden, taking photos, or writing, while others need to be constantly on the go. My big adventure might be seeing a movie at a theatre while another person's idea of adventure is travel or sky diving. 

ALIGN YOURSELF

When making decisions for yourself in 2019, don't be afraid to align them with who you are deep in your heart. DO ALSO align them with your responsibilities and family needs. 
Know yourself well enough to know what to say no or yes to. 

God has made you the way they are for reasons. God is the potter, so always ask him what to do. Though the potter makes many pots that look the same, they are not just as you and I are not the same. We each have unique skills, abilities, thoughts, motivations, and callings. Ask God to direct you and help you become more of what he desires. Ask him what he wants you to say no or yes to and what he wants to use you for. Then move ahead one simple step at a time. 



 



Another Word for the Year - Invitation


It's helpful to start your New Year with intention. That is often done by choosing a focus word. I've been writing about possible words in previous posts like this one

Today, another Facebook friend asked friends to post their 2019 word. I sputtered because I like the words 

Change, Intention, Need vs. Want, Balance, Adventure, Opportunity, Let it Go, Listen, and Follow. 

I was about to respond to her when I thought of another one that has been crossing my mind - INVITATION.

Over the years, when restless, I would go on a search for a new job, another course, a group to join, and so on. I finally realized what I want is an INVITATION to something meaningful. I don't want to go hunting any longer. I want God to present the opportunity to me.

It could be a paid role or volunteer. It could be a one-time event or something adventurous. I'd need to know it is from God and I'd need to use last years word (willing) to take the step. 

INVITATION

Receiving an invitation is honoring because it implies someone has noticed something about me and has thought of me for the event or role.

When I thought about my friend's request for my word today, I wondered if invitation incorporates many of my other words. Let's examine that idea. 

Change - Yes, an invitation would mean change 

Intention - I'd need to be intentional about following through

Need vs. Want - I put these words in to watch my checkbook. I want to live a more minimalist life. The invitation would need to be for pay or affordable and not result in clutter

Balance - the invitation would need to fit my lifestyle 

Adventure - the smallest change would be an adventure 

Opportunity - similar to Invitation 

Let it Go - to take on something new would require letting go of something else, perhaps 

Listen and Follow - this is about listening for God's voice and following his instruction. An Invitation would need to be processed that way. 

I'm going to think about this further. 


Balance, Intention, and Adventure

Plans for 2019?



A friend on Facebook asked for three words that we hope will describe how we will live in 2019. I input "Balance, Intention, and Adventure."  

To me BALANCE means putting my passions and duties into balance in my schedule. 
To keep my thoughts and mindset in balance.
To take care of myself physically in balance. (I've found it's easy to focus on aches and pains and what is wrong with my health and I don't want to do that this year. Continue to pray for my healing of tinnitus and head and neck pain and chronic stiffness. Two years ago I bonked my head and I think that is a contributor).

To me INTENTION means adding wisdom to my thoughts and choices. It means thinking through the possible consequences of my choices. I hope living intentionally will help me feel accomplished and motivated. 

To me ADVENTURE means a lot less than it would to some women. I'm an introvert. I prefer staying home to read and write or create art. Adventure might mean visiting a new coffee shop, restaurant, or plant store. 

To others it may mean going into a mud run or half-marathon. It may mean blowing $13,000 on a cruise with their spouse. It might mean taking a trip to China. 

I'm not even sure what adventure might look like this year for me. It will require pushing myself out of my usual default, but I am content to slowly break existing habits, not take drastic measures. 

I'm happy and content with my life believe it or not. But I know the value of new adventures too. 

I think I might just post all these words around my house. They are ALL motivating.  

Another Possible Word for 2019

INSPIRE?

To continue the theme of choosing a word for the year as discussed in this post, I'd like to talk about another theme that has been going through my mind. The word is inspire.

Some word choices are more me-centered. Others are others-centered. The word INSPIRE can be both. 

I prefer to feel inspired more than I like to feel worried, sad, or bored. I seek inspiration, but have learned over time it is less about finding it in a big way. For me, it isn't about taking a European vacation. It is enjoying the immediate such as the intricacies laden in the bark of a tree or in the petals of a flower. It is about seeing beauty in the overlooked.

I started a habit about two years ago of going for a 10-minute walk around my large back yard first thing in the morning after taking my thyroid medication (which is supposed to be taken well before coffee). Walking in the fresh air gets my body going, clears my lungs, and my dog and cat enjoy walking with me, so it's fun. (It is also practical as I'm able to pick up my dog's poop during this time). But it is more than that. During this walk, I look out into the forest and up into the sky. I take a deep breath as I notice things I may otherwise miss. I invite God into my day during these walks and return to the kitchen more inspired than when I began, ready to pour a coffee. 

Pray to Inspire Others

Before I head to my gym, I say a prayer for God to put a guard over my mouth. I ask him to use my words to bless others and for others to bless me. This group has been great because it is mostly men and women over age 55. It is my peer group. We workout together and encourage each other. I can't force inspiration on them, but I hope I am an inspiration in some small way.

Inspiring someone else may seem contrived. We can't make anyone else do, think, or feel something. It's up to them. But we can ask God to help us BE inspiring. He can muster up what is already within us and use it to bless others. 

Mostly, I say this prayer so that I won't be negative, critical, insulting, annoying, and so on toward others. I want to be a light, not a Debbie Downer. Choosing to look for inspiration and wanting to inspire others is always a good choice. 

Could your word for 2019 be INSPIRE? 


Another Possible Word for the Year - Move On!

To continue the theme of choosing a word for the year as discussed in this post, I'd like to talk about another theme that has been going through my mind. The phrase is move on (or perhaps let it go).

What I mean by move on is to stop venting, complaining, or ruminating about something. 

I desire to learn to let an event be as it is or was, enjoy it, and move on from it. I desire to resist focusing on what went wrong and look at what went well. 

The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians to not find fault, to not keep an account of wrong doings or carry grudges. These verses and others like them indicate a need to put an end to endless rehashing of issues that are better left behind.  Philippians to forget the former things. That can include what happened an hour ago.

Philippians 4:8 tells us to put our focus on

 "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things"

It doesn't suggest we make assumptions (which may not be true), that we look for the faults of ourselves or others, that we look at mis-deeds that might have occurred, that we look at the negative that transpired, or that we look at what's wrong with a person or situation.

Moving on is so important. It becomes problematic when an issue becomes bigger in my mind than it needs to be. 

What we make our focus intensifies. The result of focusing on what went wrong is we beat ourselves up or cause ourselves more stress than necessary. We might vent to others who don't need to hear about it.  

Perfectionism and Control Issues

For myself, this theme of needing to move on is closely linked to my problem with perfectionism, the need to be in control, and over-analysis. I have trouble when things don't meet my expectations.

Another phrase I might adopt is let it go. I have found doing this takes conscious effort. 

How about you? Could you stand to let thoughts go more easily? 

Letting go means resisting repeating the negatives (referred to as venting), resisting thinking of them over and over, and changing the channel in the brain to more positive thoughts that are full of fresh hope. 

Choose a Word for 2019



Many women choose a word at the turn of the calendar. It is a word God has impressed upon them to act as a guiding light for the year. I haven't always chosen a word. Sometimes I've chosen a phrase. Last year, I chose Willingness.

Over the next few posts, I will talk about words you might choose for yourself.

Here's how mine helped me in 2018:

I chose the word "willing" or "willingness." I pictured myself aboard a cruise ship called Willingness.  God would be the captain. I would sit back and relax while I let Him decide where the ship would go. I would disembark at the ports of call to carry out the tasks He had in mind for me. 

The ports of call I ventured to weren't glamorous. They included some of the following:

Be willing to make a wreath for your mother-in-law's nursing home room.
Be willing to visit her on your own, as frequently as possible.
Be willing to help write her eulogy.
Be willing to get up and go to bootcamp.
Be willing to be a listener rather than a talker.
Be willing to make your mom home-cooked meals. 
Be willing to clean your house without complaining.

...and so on.

Adopting this willing mindset helped me complete tasks with a sense of purpose. It kept me from unnecessary complaining.

Right now I have a long list of possible words to choose from for 2019. Some are pictured above. I'm practicing some of them to see if God emphasizes one over the other. 

What do you think of this idea? Do you choose a word for the year? Would it help you stay focused?

Struggles of the Moved Woman



I'm interrupting my blog posts on choosing a word for 2019, for a moment. There is something I haven't yet written on here, but I just saw some comments on a Youtube video that prompted this topic of what happens when a woman moves away from all that is familiar. 

The woman talked about having a midlife crisis after moving to a new place and trying to start her own business on her own. Her comment reminded me of how I felt each time I job transferred due to my husband's job. 

When we first made a decision to move away from family and friends to take a job in Western Canada, we had felt God leading us to do so. With anticipation, we moved. 

The problem was, I had expectations that something big and beautiful by way of a ministry or paid job was awaiting me and that a group of people were in line who would befriend me. My mind pictured God calling me to some new activity. 

But there wasn't a long line of new friends or a significant calling. There was a lot of frustration. 

I probably fulfilled many of God's purposes anyhow, but not the way my heart imagined. Both moves included what might be called mental breakdowns and crisis no matter how much I tried to embrace the beauty of the new place and see it as an adventure. 

After six months in the first new location, the excitement wore off. If it had been a vacation, it would have been time to return home and that is what I wanted to do. 

A Return Home Helped 

Fortunately, we did book a trip back home and it helped significantly. Once our visit was over, we returning to our new home abroad and having our cat to come back to made it feel more like home. 

They say there is something called "culture shock" and I felt I was in the midst of it many times. I didn't fit. Nothing was familiar. No one spoke my name. I was lonely. Anxiety mounted. I cried many tears. I think I had a few mental breakdowns too. The move really took a toll on me.

I share this for the woman in a similar circumstance. I hope you will feel comfort knowing you aren't alone in how you feel. Your feelings are valid. It is hard. 

My husband moved on with his work--getting to know workmates and having daily assignments. I, on the other hand, was at home looking after my children. I had no instant connections. I sought new purpose regularly. 

We all need interaction and stimulation. We all need relationships beyond our family. We all need a sense of purpose.  Finding new friends can be complicated. And so I stumbled along the way. 

Restarting Again 

After we moved again, I tried all over again in the next city. Because we were thousands of miles closer to home this time, psychologically I felt more at ease. The mindset was a little more familiar.  

But it still seemed as though many people were skeptical about getting to know a new person. Most had local relatives and old connections. When one woman from a Bible study finally asked me over to her place for a meal, I finally felt a breakthrough. 

It was hard emotionally and mentally. Even friends back home failed to keep in touch. I really don't think a person can know what a moved woman goes through unless or until they do it themselves. 

When I did return home, I noticed glaringly how those who had remained were still in their old cocoons. I doubt they would have dealt with the types of things I had to go through. But then, again, perhaps they had challenges I know nothing of.  

I think moving is especially hard for women. I eventually wanted to move home. We finally did.

During my moves I called on the resources of the organization called Just Moved.  It is geared to lend support to women who have made big moves.

Ann Kelley, one of the staff at Just Moved shared with me that when you move back home or to the familiar, you don't have to work so hard at keeping yourself buoyed up. That is true. There's a pressure taken off you. Connections that are still there are free and natural. I certainly noticed this once I moved back home. 

Still, I've had to start over yet again. It seems all through life we start over no matter where we are.